Sending off the biking season in style.
The last sliver of sunlight drops below the distant horizon as I slide a bacon-and-cheese quesadilla off the grill and onto my plate. Melted cheddar drips down the sides and bacon grease pools at the tortillas’ edges. I take a bite, closing my eyes and nodding toward the retreating light and warmth.
From our ridgetop campsite, we can see for miles. Miles of burn, miles of mountains, miles of trail. Behind us, a day of riding that rivaled any I’ve ever had; ahead of us, the warmth of a campfire and a bottle of wine. A friend and I are halfway through an end-of-season road-trip, racing fall and the coming winter along the lesser-pedaled mountain-bike rides of southwest Montana.
In the state’s far-southwest corner, singletrack bobs and weaves up, down, and around towering conifers, truck-sized granite boulders, and crystal-clear mountain springs. It’s day three of five and we haven’t seen a soul, a trend that would continue for the entirety of our trip.
We’re here to explore, not expedition-style, but rather, in comfort. Adventures at this time of year are enhanced by luxury. Case in point, the fare. It isn’t often that we drown our meals with anything other than light beer, but a few weeks past the autumnal equinox, and red wine warms the belly in a way beer never could. Exhibit B, the lodging. While mid-August calls for little more than a sleeping bag and a soft spot on the ground, by early October, the night has a cold bite that is best kept at bay by way of insulation, such as zero-degree bags, long underwear, and sleeping quarters removed from the elements.
That’s how we come to find ourselves the occupants of a Jeep-top tent—luxury, indeed. It’s a rental from local outfitter Hatch Adventures, and it’s gotten us up this old logging road to the remote trailhead where we’re currently camped. Stocked with a stove, table, kitchen kit, chairs, and a cooler, our basic needs are met, leaving us to focus on trip-planning and epic singletrack.
Which there’s a lot of. From Bozeman to Salmon, we’ve covered dozens of miles of dirt. From wind-scoured mountain passes near West Yellowstone to the ghost-like burns of Chief Joseph Pass, these rides represent the wildest trails available to regional mountain bikers, and they haven’t disappointed.
We spend our days out among forest, soaking up the last riding of the season, before we trade two wheels for two planks. We ride hard when we feel like it, but mostly revel in the time outside. The sun’s rays are still powerful enough to warm us through, and while the days are shorter, they aren’t so brief as to ruin our fun.
Whenever seasons change, it’s important to sneak in one last outing, be it a fall bike ride or a spring ski tour. Here in Montana, we’re slaves to the whims of Mother Nature, and while fighting that fact is a fool’s errand, sometimes, with the right diversion, we catch her with her back turned.
To book a rental for your next adventure, visit hatchadventures.com.